Reciprocal Health Agreement

I was a signatory to the requete calling for the re-introduction of the reciprocal health agreement (RHA). It is clear many people believe it should be brought back and I was of the same opinion. Having done so, it resulted in work being undertaken to establish the possible cost and the likelihood of Guernsey being able to negotiate an RHA. It became obvious from soundings taken from the Ministry of Health in the UK that it was very unlikely that we would achieve one as the UK Government was looking to end the RHAs it had against a background of economic austerity. It has cut the number down from over 40 to 17 in recent years.

If we did manage to obtain some sort of RHA, the cover would not be very comprehensive and nothing like the one that existed before 2009. Indeed, from the research I have done it is clear that the RHAs for Jersey and the Isle of Man are of little value and it is quite possible that even these will be ended in the near future.

Of immediate concern is the fact that the UK has increased tariffs for overseas visitors by 50%, which affects Guernsey people directly and HSSD is beginning to be charged by some hospitals. We therefore need to focus our attention on reversing that, as well as following up on an amendment I supported in December 2015, looking at an insurance scheme for Guernsey people travelling to the UK, which would achieve the same purpose as an RHA for local people.

I am pleased I signed the requete, and it may be that a form of RHA may be brought in as a result of the work being undertaken, but ultimately, if the requete had been passed it would have raised expectations unreasonably and that is why I could not support it.

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